Doctors fear that meningitis, measles and other potentially fatal diseases are being misdiagnosed as the H1N1 influenza by over-the-phone consultations, according to a new survey of general practitioners (GPs) in the UK.

Almost 90% of the 251 GPs surveyed said that diagnosing the H1N1 virus over the phone could miss other health conditions as its symptoms are similar to those of the flu virus.

Doctors quoted instances where people with tonsillitis, measles, knee or kidney infections were wrongly prescribed anti-H1N1 medication over the phone, The Times reports.

The UK’s National Pandemic Flu Service prescribed Tamiflu, a medicine used to treat H1N1, to about 150,000 people in its first week of operation.

The UK Government introduced the service, which includes telephone and website services, to reduce pressure on GPs within the National Health Service.